Friday, March 25, 2005

Release The Hounds!

From Josh Marshall, we learn that Jeb has already tried to send in the goon squad.

Hours after a judge ordered that Terri Schiavo was not to be removed from her hospice, a team of state agents were en route to seize her and have her feeding tube reinserted -- but they stopped short when local police told them they would enforce the judge's order, The Herald has learned.

Agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told police in Pinellas Park, the small town where Schiavo lies at Hospice Woodside, on Thursday that they were on the way to take her to a hospital to resume her feeding.

For a brief period, local police, who have officers at the hospice to keep protesters out, prepared for what sources called "a showdown."

In the end, the squad from the FDLE and the Department of Children & Families backed down, apparently concerned about confronting local police outside the hospice.

"We told them that unless they had the judge with them when they came, they were not going to get in," said a source with the local police.



Via Oliver Willis, Scientific American is shrill.

In retrospect, this magazine's coverage of socalled evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it.

Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.

Moreover, we shamefully mistreated the Intelligent Design (ID) theorists by lumping them in with creationists. Creationists believe that God designed all life, and that's a somewhat religious idea. But ID theorists think that at unspecified times some unnamed superpowerful entity designed life, or maybe just some species, or maybe just some of the stuff in cells. That's what makes ID a superior scientific theory: it doesn't get bogged down in details.

Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody's ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts. Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do. Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction. To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong. In that spirit, we will end the practice of expressing our own views in this space: an editorial page is no place for opinions.

Get ready for a new Scientific American. No more discussions of how science should inform policy. If the government commits blindly to building an anti-ICBM defense system that can't work as promised, that will waste tens of billions of taxpayers' dollars and imperil national security, you won't hear about it from us. If studies suggest that the administration's antipollution measures would actually increase the dangerous particulates that people breathe during the next two decades, that's not our concern. No more discussions of how policies affect science either—so what if the budget for the National Science Foundation is slashed? This magazine will be dedicated purely to science, fair and balanced science, and not just the science that scientists say is science. And it will start on April Fools' Day.

Okay, We Give Up
THE EDITORS editors@sciam.com


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Jesus Is Just Alright With Me

The Editors, on the fact that many self-professed libertarians/"classic" conservatives are suddenly coming to the realization that they helped to elect a theocracy.

It’s also funny watching the Jingosphere try to deal with this. It’s been a trying few years, what with the “Global War on Terror” revealing itself to be not so much World War Two 2: Against the Sand Nazis, and a little too much The Gang Who Couldn’t Crusade Straight. Pretending that the Republican victory in the 2004 elections was some kind of popular vindication Republican foreign policy (the masterful and infinitely subtle geopolitical strategem concocted and administered by a C-student who couldn’t have found Afghanistan on a map two years ago), rather than a referendum on fag-hating, has probably taken its toll (although there were plenty of liberals willing to go along with the fiction as well), as have the record deficits racked up by the stauch fiscal conservatives, the manifold corruptions and abuses of power, the mountainous evidence that torture sans trial is the avowed policy of the unaccountable Imperial Executive, and so on. Sure, you can always excuse it with the undisproveable claim that “the Democrats” would have done the same/worse, but sometimes, after using this 10-12 times a day, it’s got to start sounding like, well, an excuse. Again, I don’t mean “ha-ha” funny, but more like “I-have-just been-diagnosed-with-incureable-Ebola” funny.


Phone Tag

It's always frustrating to communicate via voice-mail, especially when you're a hammered celebrity, like Pat O'Brien.

O'Brien, who entered alcohol-rehab on Sunday, allegedly left a series of messages for a female acquaintance last week that described, in detail, his plans for a Keith Richards-like "get together" involving her and another woman.

"Let's just [bleeping] have sex and fun and drugs and go crazy," says a male voice.

Yesterday reps for "The Insider" would not comment on widespread attribution of the voice to O'Brien.

The tape describes in graphic detail just how "badly" the caller wants various activities that involve, gosh, all parts of the woman's body.

"I'm so into you, Betsy is so f——ing jealous," the voice claims in one message. "I know you want me, but you have to be with Betsy, too."

"The Insider" host has one child with his wife, Linda.

Sadly, by the final message, Betsy seems to have pulled out of the threesome.

Says the caller: "Get another woman up, hire a hooker, let's get crazy, get some coke and if you get this message, if you agree with this, just look at me and say yes."


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Parental Advisory

God forbid anyone ever question the method or motives of those working in "His" name.


Today I happened to hear Bob Franken "reporting" on the scene of the solemn procession in front of the hospice where demonstrators were attempting to bring Schiavo a cup of water, intending to be arrested. Franken, as hush-voiced as a golf commentator on the 18th hole awaiting a crucial putt, described one of the scenes of demonstrators stepping forward and being led away by sun-glassed police as "poignant."

The scene? A father being arrested with three of his children. Another child, age three, was spared, left to the custody of her mother. The father and three children--all three under the age of sixteen--were gently handcuffed and taken away in squad cars.

There was nothing "poignant" about this moment of togetherness. It was idiotic and irresponsible. If Dad wants to get arrested and spend the night behind bars with Otis the Town Drunk, fine, but don't drag the kids into it, particularly children that young. Let them stay home with gran'ma as Dad and Mom enjoy a second honeymoon in handcuffs. Franken's sentimentalizing of this pious photo-op is more proof that the so-called MSM is so cautious about being respectful of religion that it refuses to recognize the raw face of fanaticism even when it's filling the camera lens. Practically nothing is said about the backgrounds of the nutjob organizers of these sickly pseudo-events, leaving the impression that is simply People of Conscience converging on Florida to bear witness and catch some rays.

Digby has more.


Get Louder

This is, unfortunately, true (via AMERICAblog).


Democratic strategist David Sirota said the Schiavo case creates three impressions. "Firstly, Republicans are zealots," he said. "Secondly, where the hell are the Democrats? And thirdly, well, at least the zealots believe in something strongly. And that's the problem for Democrats right now on this issue, and a whole host of others. The party seems unwilling to stand up for anything controversial."

"The calculus by Democrats is that they don't want to offend anyone," Sirota said. "But in trying not to offend anyone, they lose support from everyone. What many Democrats haven't yet learned from Republicans is that it is better to be loved by some, and hated by others, than try to be liked by everyone. Because when you do that, you are liked by no one."

The Democrats have public opinion on their side, though you'd never know it from watching television, it's time for a major Dem to stand up and say this is wrong.

Maybe they could take a cue from Rep. Christopher Shays, New York (R):

This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy.



Tuesday, March 22, 2005

"I Love Duke"

"I'm sorry I promised both of you to Shavlick Randolph but there's
nothing I can do at this point. I never thought he could eat that entire cake."


Seafood Diet 2.0

The new diet craze is that, rather eating seafood, one just sucks the mercury out of a thermometer. It has all the same effects, but no messy weight gain!

When the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a rule last week to limit mercury emissions from U.S. power plants, officials emphasized that the controls could not be more aggressive because the cost to industry already far exceeded the public health payoff.

What they did not reveal is that a Harvard University study paid for by the EPA, co-authored by an EPA scientist and peer-reviewed by two other EPA scientists had reached the opposite conclusion.

That analysis estimated health benefits 100 times as great as the EPA did, but top agency officials ordered the finding stripped from public documents, said a staff member who helped develop the rule. Acknowledging the Harvard study would have forced the agency to consider more stringent controls, said environmentalists and the study's author.


Asked about the Harvard analysis, Al McGartland, director of the EPA's National Center for Environmental Economics, said it was submitted too late to be factored into the agency's calculations. He added that crucial elements of the analysis were flawed.

Interviews and documents, however, show that the EPA received the study results by the Jan. 3 deadline, and that officials had been briefed about its methodology as early as last August. EPA officials referred to some aspects of the Harvard study in a briefing for The Washington Post on Feb. 2.

The Harvard study concluded that mercury controls similar to those the EPA proposed could save nearly $5 billion a year through reduced neurological and cardiac harm. Last Tuesday, however, officials said the health benefits were worth no more than $50 million a year while the cost to industry would be $750 million a year.


Sunday, March 20, 2005

I Love The 80's

For anyone who grew up around roughly the same time as me, the 80's and early 90's, this is the single greatest thing ever: an archive of 80's toy/cartoon/breakfast cereal commercials.

If McDonalds was awesome, which they're not, they'd drop the "I'm lovin' it" crap and bring back the talking Chicken McNuggets.



Via Atrios, we learn that as Texas governor, George Bush signed a law into effect that allows hospitals to remove life-support for concious patients over the wishes of their relatives.

A patient's inability to pay for medical care combined with a prognosis that renders further care futile are two reasons a hospital might suggest cutting off life support, the chief medical officer at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital said Monday.

Dr. David Pate's comments came as the family of Spiro Nikolouzos fights to keep St. Luke's from turning off the ventilator and artificial feedings keeping the 68-year-old grandfather alive.


State law allows doctors to remove patients from life support if the hospital's ethics committee agrees, but it requires that the hospital give families 10 days to find another facility.

A similar case is still in the courts. Texas Children's Hospital wants to discontinue life support on 5-month-old Sun Hudson, who was diagnosed shortly after birth with a fatal form of dwarfism. His mother, Wanda Hudson, wants her son's care to continue at the hospital.

On Wednesday, a judge will consider whether Harris County Probate Court judge William McCulloch may remain on the Hudson case. Caballero, who represents Wanda Hudson, filed a motion that McCulloch remove himself from the case after making what Caballero said were biased statements.

Big business knows best.